Unsimulated sex refers to the presentation in a film of sex scenes where the actors engage in an actual sex act, and are not just miming the general motions. At one time such scenes were restricted by law and self-imposed industry standards such as the Motion Picture Production Code. Films showing explicit sexual activity were confined to privately distributed underground films, such as stag films or "porn loops". Beginning in the late 1960s, mainstream cinemas began pushing boundaries in terms of what was allowed on screen. Although the vast majority of sexual situations depicted in mainstream cinema are simulated (in early pornography, the main actors engaged in simulated sex, with inserts placed in the film), on rare occasions actors engage in real sex. The difference between these films and pornography is that, while such scenes might be considered erotic, the intent of these films is not solely pornographic.
Notable examples include two of the eight Bedside-films and the six Zodiac-films from the 1970s, all of which were produced in Denmark and had many pornographic sex scenes, but were nevertheless considered mainstream films (they all had mainstream casts and crews, and premiered in mainstream cinemas). The last of these films, Agent 69 Jensen i Skyttens tegn, was made in 1978. From the end of the 1970s until the late 1990s it was rare to see hardcore scenes in mainstream cinema, but this changed with the success of Lars von Trier's The Idiots (1998), which heralded a wave of art-house films with explicit content, such as Romance (1999), Baise-moi (2000), Intimacy (2001), Vincent Gallo's The Brown Bunny (2003), and Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs (2004).
Films with non-simulated sexual activity
The following mainstream films have scenes with verified real sexual activity, meaning actors or actresses are filmed engaging in actual coitus or performing related sexual acts such as fellatio and cunnilingus. Some simulated sex scenes are so realistic that critics mistakenly believe that they are real, such as the cunnilingus scene in the 2006 film Red Road.
|Dom kallar oss mods (English title: They Call Us Misfits)||1967||Swedish documentary film, the first of a trilogy.||Swedish|
|Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song||1971||Director/actor Melvin Van Peebles appears in several real sex scenes. His son, Mario, performed in a simulated sex scene. Van Peebles contracted a sexually transmitted disease while filming and successfully filed for worker's compensation. While the sex scenes may have been explicit and the actor maintains that they were real, nothing is shown onscreen that could not have been faked. Nonetheless, after Peebles came up with the winning ad slogan "rated X by an all-white jury" the film's rating was reduced to R in 1974.||English|
|W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism||1971||Director Dušan Makavejev explores the relationship between communist politics and sexuality, as well as exploring the life and work of Wilhelm Reich. Contains scenes of both various simulated sex acts and non-simulated manual stimulation of a penis.||Serbo-Croatian
|Pink Flamingos||1972||Divine performs oral sex with a male actor.||English|
|I Jomfruens tegn||1973||First film in the Danish Zodiac-series of mainstream-comedies with hardcore scenes.||Danish|
|I Tyrens tegn||1974||Second film in the Danish Zodiac-series of mainstream-comedies with hardcore scenes.||Danish|
|I Tvillingernes tegn||1975||Third film in the Danish Zodiac-series of mainstream-comedies with hardcore scenes.||Danish|
|Der må være en sengekant||1975||Sixth film in the Danish Bedside-series of erotic mainstream-comedies, and one of the two to have hardcore scenes.||Danish|
|Sømænd på sengekanten||1976||Eighth and final film in the Danish Bedside-series of erotic mainstream-comedies, and one of the two to have hardcore scenes, including extensive clips from the short Color Climax #1283: Mail Order Sex (1973), watched on 8mm by the ship's crew.||Danish|
|Une vraie jeune fille (English title: A Real Young Girl or A Real Young Lady)||1976||Features female masturbation, close-up of male and female genitalia (including a man masturbating to ejaculation) and urination scenes.||French|
|I Løvens tegn||1976||Fourth film in the Danish Zodiac-series of mainstream-comedies with hardcore scenes.||Danish|
|愛のコリーダ (English title: In the Realm of the Senses)||1976||Based on a true story of a Japanese prostitute, features fellatio and other non-simulated sexual acts.||Japanese|
|Agent 69 Jensen i Skorpionens tegn||1977||Fifth film in the Danish Zodiac-series of mainstream-comedies with hardcore scenes.||Danish|
|Agent 69 Jensen i Skyttens tegn||1978||Sixth and final film in the Danish Zodiac-series of mainstream-comedies with hardcore scenes.||Danish|
|Caligula||1979||Uncut version of this film includes several authentic sex scenes, including penetration, fellatio and ejaculation during the six minutes worth of inserts shot by the film's producer, Bob Guccione. The sex shot by Tinto Brass in the rest of the movie, although very explicit, was simulated.||English|
|Cruising||1980||Director William Friedkin spliced in single frames of gay anal intercourse during at least one scene, the first murder. The frames are barely detectable at normal speed but are visible when freeze-framed. Partially obscured sex acts, including fellatio and fisting, are observable being performed by extras in scenes set in gay leather bars. The film originally contained an additional 40 minutes of footage that Friedkin describes as "[a]bsolutely graphic sexuality....that material showed the most graphic homosexuality with Pacino watching, and with the intimation that he may have been participating." Friedkin sought to restore the missing footage for the DVD release but it has been lost. He believes it has been destroyed.||English|
|Il Diavolo in Corpo (English title: Devil in the Flesh)||1986||Features a short scene of fellatio, during which the man tells the woman about Lenin's return to St. Petersburg in 1917.||Italian|
|La Vie de Jésus (English title: The Life of Jesus)||1997||"In Life of Jesus, Dumont included extreme close-ups of penetration to emphasize the animal nature of the sex act".||French|
|Idioterne (English title: The Idiots)||1998||This film by Lars von Trier features penetration and group sex.||Danish|
|Romance||1999||Directed by Catherine Breillat, features male and female masturbation, fellatio, penetration, ejaculation, and sadomasochistic bondage.||French|
|Pola X||1999||"Pola X ... acquired international notoriety for unsimulated sex scenes between the characters played by Guillaume Depardieu and Yekaterina Golubeva, though body doubles were reportedly used for the more graphic shots."||French|
|Baise-moi||2000||Several actual sex scenes, including penetration and fellatio, involving Karen Lancaume and Raffaëla Anderson.||French|
|Intimacy||2001||Fellatio scene between actress Kerry Fox and Mark Rylance. It is often falsely stated that actual coitus is performed between the two leads, but this rumor was dispelled by Fox's then-boyfriend, Alexander Linklater, who wrote an article for The Guardian about the making of the film.||English|
|Ken Park||2002||The film was banned in Australia, as the Office of Film and Literature Classification said it contained scenes of "child sexual abuse, actual sex by people depicted as minors and sexualised violence". Cunnilingus, auto-erotic asphyxiation, urination, and group sex acts involving characters that are supposed to be teens are shown explicitly, but the sex is simulated with the exception of one scene showing a young man masturbating. All actors were actually over 18.||English|
|The Brown Bunny||2003||This film by Vincent Gallo features a scene where Chloë Sevigny performs actual fellatio on Gallo.||English|
|Anatomie de l'enfer (English title: Anatomy of Hell)||2004||By director Catherine Breillat, it features "actual sex, high-level sex scenes and high-level themes" according to the Australian Classification Review Board.||French|
|9 Songs||2004||Several non-simulated sex scenes between actress Margo Stilley and actor Kieran O'Brien, including protected penetration, fellatio, cunnilingus and an on-screen ejaculation by the lead actor.||English|
|The Raspberry Reich||2004||The picture is full of non-simulated heterosexual and homosexual (mostly homosexual) sex from beginning to end. There is onscreen heterosexual intercourse as well as gay oral and anal sex. The opening sequence in particular features an extended montage of sexual activity.||English|
|All About Anna||2005||The film-makers, Innocent Pictures, said that "[w]ithout the sex scenes, the film's drama would fall apart. This was a particular challenge to the film's cast, who had to cope with the traditional social and human traumas associated with having real sex in front of a camera. Fortunately the film's actors and actresses managed to extend their dramatic performances way beyond the norm and truly managed to push the envelope, achieving new means of dramatic expression. The sex scenes were carefully planned and rehearsed prior to shooting, allowing the actors to stay in character through every embrace and caress."||English|
|Inside Deep Throat||2005||This documentary includes the deep throat scene from the original Linda Lovelace motion picture Deep Throat. Approximately 30 seconds of the actual fellatio.||English|
|Shortbus||2006||Several actors in this American film, including Canadian TV personality, singer, and CBC national radio host Sook-Yin Lee, perform real coitus and other sexual acts. Non-simulated sex acts include explicit masturbation by several characters, coitus, and heterosexual and homosexual fellatio.||English|
|Destricted||2006||Seven short films by artists and film-makers commissioned to "explore the fine line where art and pornography intersect", it "contains strong, real sex".||English|
|Antichrist||2009||This film by Lars von Trier features a scene of penetrative vaginal intercourse, and also includes graphically violent sexual imagery. Body doubles were used to make the film.||English|
|I Want Your Love||2010||A 2010 short film and a 2012 feature-length film, both directed by Travis Mathews, featuring homosexual fellatio and male-male anal sex.||English|
Pornographic films reedited as mainstream releases
Prior to the advent of home video, a number of hardcore pornography films were released to mainstream cinemas. In most cases, scenes of penetration were either cut out or replaced with alternate shots. One exception to this was Deep Throat, which was released uncensored.
Examples of this type of hybrid release include Alice in Wonderland (1976), shot as X-rated, but first released as an R-rated version — afterwards, the uncut version was released; Café Flesh (1982) — the R-rated version of this science fiction porn film was released to mainstream cinemas; Stocks and Blondes (1984), originally available as Wanda Whips Wall Street; and Droid (1988), originally released as Cabaret Sin in 1987.
- Dirks, Tim. "History of Sex in Cinema: The Greatest and Most Influential Sexual Films and Scenes". Filmsite.org. American Movie Classic Company. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
- Corliss, Richard (29 March 2005). "That Old Feeling: When Porno Was Chic". TIME. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
- Hohendal, Kristin (1 July 2001). "Film Goes All the Way (In the Name of Art)". New York Times. Retrieved 29 November 2009.
- Gerrard, Nicci (3 October 1999). "Coming soon to a cinema near you". The Observer (London). Retrieved 4 December 2009. "Catherine Breillat's controversial French film, Romance, has just been given an 18 certificate by the British Board of Film Classification. It will be granted the respectability of mainstream cinemas round the country. It has been passed because it is 'philosophical', not pornographic. It is about sexual relationships, not an aid to sexual gratification."
- Jensen, Michael (November 2006). "LEGITIMIZING ILLEGITIMACY: IDENTITY SPACES AND MARKETS FOR ILLEGITIMATE PRODUCTS". Organizations & Markets Workshop (Chicago Booth).
- "Explicit Euro-sex test for British censors". The Guardian (London). 22 February 1999. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
- Wilmington, Michael (27 August 2001). "Graphic Sex Scenes on Film Causing Little Fuss--for Now". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
- Fuller, Graham (October 2001). "Shots in the Dark - sex in current French films". Interview. Retrieved 4 December 2009.[dead link]
- Dalton, Stephen (7 October 2006). "Sealed with a Glasgow kiss". The Times (London). Retrieved 10 January 2010.
- Robertson, Patrick (1991). The Guinness Book of Movie Facts & Feats (4th ed.). Guinness. p. 62. ISBN 0-85112-908-0.
- Van Peebles, Melvin. The Real Deal: What It
Was...Is!. Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song DVD, Xenon Entertainment Group, 2003. ISBN 1-57829-750-8.
- Glenn Erickson (12 June 2007). "WR: Mysteries of the Organism". DVD Savant.
- "Pink Flamingos".
- Ebbe Villadsen: Danish Erotic Film Classics (2005).
- Une vraie jeune fille (1976) - Plot keywords.
- Maass, Dave (28 February 2008). "Real Sex in Unreal Films: Penetrating movies that aren't pornos". Film.com. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
- Kehr, Dave (24 April 2009). "Nagisa Oshima's Realm of Restraint and Precision". New York Times. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
- Caligula: A Film Review by David Carter.
- Williams, p. 135
- Simon, Alex (September 2007). "Crusing with Billy". Venice Magazine. pp. 68–71. Retrieved 10 February 2009.[dead link]
- Cruising with Billy - Copy of article.
- Canby, Vincent (29 May 1987). "Devil in the Flesh (1986)". New York Times. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
- Hume, Christopher (13 August 1986). "Sex act offends censor festival film ordered cut". Toronto Star. Retrieved 29 November 2009.
- Erickson, Steve (29 November 2000). "Mysteries of Love". Minneapolis City Pages. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
- Lister, David (17 May 1998). "Actors had real sex for Cannes movie". The Independent (London). Retrieved 28 November 2009.
- Adair, Gilbert (28 September 1999). "Welcome to planet porn". Independent (London). Retrieved 29 November 2009.
- "Guillaume Depardieu: French actor". The Times (London). 15 October 2008. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
- Tim Adams (26 November 2006). "Everybody's doing it...". The Guardian (London: Guardian News and Media Limited).
- Alexander Linklater (22 June 2001). "Dangerous liaisons". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
- Maddox, Gary (16 June 2003). "Filmmaker defends the 'real' Ken Park". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 January 2010.[dead link]
- Gilbey, Ryan (16 February 2008). "Chloë's world". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 27 May 2010.
- Maddox, Garry (8 July 2004). "Censors refuse to ban film depicting real sex". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
- A Quick Chat with Bruce LaBruce - interview about the film.
- "'All About Anna': About the Film". Innocent Pictures. Retrieved 28 December 2009.[dead link]
- A Film Review by James Berardinelli.
- Brian D. Johnson (2 June 2006). "Sook-Yin Lee shocker in Cannes | Macleans.ca - Culture - Lifestyle". Macleans.ca. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
- Reynolds, Nigel (6 July 2006). "Hard-core sex film to be premiered as art at Tate Modern". Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 4 December 2009.
- "Destricted Art and Sex". Tate Modern. 9 September 2006. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
- "RT Interview: Lars von Trier on Antichrist". 22 July 2009. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
- "Gay sex too much for Australian film censor". 22 February 2013. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
- Alice in Wonderland (1976/I).
- Peary, Danny (1988). Cult Movies 3. New York: Simon & Schuster Inc. pp. 52–56. ISBN 0-671-64810-1.
- What Blockbuster Didn't Bust Blockbuster's inconsistent ratings policy -- The video rental store cracks down on X and NC-17 rated films, but ignores racier unrated fare like Wild Orchid, Ty Burr, Entertainment Weekly, 29 March 1991.
Works cited and further reading
- Villadsen, Ebbe (2005): Danish Erotic Film Classics.
- Williams, Linda Ruth (2005): The Erotic Thriller in Contemporary Cinema. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-34713-0.